Friday, April 18, 2014

How I've missed you. And thoughts on hosting.

Friends!!  I am so excited to blog today.  I think (fingers crossed) that I may have finally begun to kick this nasty bug that has been knocking me flat every other day for the past three weeks.  And it's literally felt like an every other day thing.  One day I would feel mostly fine, then the next just dragging and coughing and achy.  What?! Finally on the mend I think... Which is perfect because I've got some things to share today.

First, if you're reading on my actual blog, you may have noticed some fun changes around here.  I'd been wanting to change things up and add a bit more color for some time.  I enlisted the help of sweet Rylee from over here.  If you need some blog updates or just need to have things polished up, she's your girl!  Loved working with her and loved how I just kind of threw a bunch of things that I "liked" at her and she plucked the image out of my brain and put it onto the screen for me.  And she added in some coral-y pink for me.  Which is totally me in every way.

Okay now, on to Easter. My favorite holiday!! It truly is.  Mainly for what it means- Jesus paid the ultimate penalty for my (sadly, many) sins by dying on a cross, and then rose from the grave and is ALIVE today and I'll get to see Him someday!  But I also love this time of year because of the warmer weather peeking out and the garden buds beginning to unfurl.  Peep toe shoes and longer days.  The promise of better things to come, both figuratively and literally.  I just love Spring!!  
 Today, I wanted to share what our table is going to look like tomorrow night at our Seder dinner, in case you needed some easy last minute Easter table ideas!  (This is only half our table, as we have a long folding table that will provide the remaining 16 place servings we need but I couldn't figure out how to unfold it so I only got half done.) (I also know we won't be here eating dinner tonight or I would have waited to set this up tomorrow.) (In case you were wondering.) (I always wonder that when I see a table set the day before.)

I tend to like a pretty table that mixes both elegant and casual together, because my goal in hosting anything is to set everyone at ease.  While I may love using cloth napkins others might be slightly intimidated to use them, so I toss a mason jar on the table as a drinking glass and it says, "Hey we don't take ourselves too seriously around here." I want people to feel welcomed and comfortable, yet, like I went to some effort to make them feel like a special guest, because that's what I'd want to feel. Isn't that the entire goal of hospitality- do unto others?  I think your centerpiece always sets the tone for your gathering.  I chose farmy looking flowers like chamomile (from Trader Joe's) because they are effortless, sweet, smell great, and speak to the casual "stay awhile" feeling I like to promote around here.  (Plus they are some of my favorites!)

 I also like to keep things simple, affordable (because we all know hosting anything costs something) and easy.  Not to mention that I love sending my guests home with something to remember the night by. I printed out Emily's free postcards and slipped them into these bags Take home gift!!

 I shared the DIY for the so easy an eleven year old could do it, watercolor place cards here.  I love using place cards because I don't want my guests to wonder what's expected of them.  Once they find their spot, they can use their water glass, set down their sweater, etc.  It's like going on vacation but having your hotel room to retreat to.  Er.  Kinda. At least that's the way I look at it.

I made little nests from crinkly kraft packing paper because I had a ton of of it on hand.  Then I placed some chocolates into them.  Easy and inexpensive.  And non-fussy.  I like that.  For the kiddos I found a box of pipe cleaner chicks in the dollar bin at JoAnn's and tucked a few of them into nests on each of the kid plates. 

This hosting event will be totally different than any other, because all I've had to do was make a dessert and prepare all of the Seder elements, and readings.  I really needed help to pull it off this year and I am so thankful for my extended family.  I already told you a couple posts ago, that I made the worlds' most amazing macaroons, then I bought a package of meringues because they are my husband's fave and since it's also his birthday weekend I thought he'd appreciate that.  I dipped them in colored candy melts from JoAnn's to make them a bit more special and tie them in with our colors.  Talk about easy and cute!!  Love.

So that's it for my Easter preparations. Well, until Adrain gets home and unfolds the other table.  Ha!

Wishing you all a Happy Easter and that you are bathed in the freshness of this story of God's love...

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Joy filled life.

Stop for just a second with me... let's rest and breathe together for just a few minutes, in this space.
I don't know about you, but this week is precious to me and at the same time I scramble to carve out time to reflect and truly enjoy it.  It's another birthday week for me (My man is turning 38.  Now he's my age!!) and we've had non-stop sickness for weeks now with every single person in this family, so I'm intentionally putting rest chunks into this week for myself.  Otherwise I won't make it to the end in one piece.  I know you get that! 

We're hosting our annual Seder Dinner (Passover meal) on Saturday night with our extended family because two of my sis-in-laws forced me to do it. (grin) I agreed, but assigned everyone else all of the food except for the dessert.  I have never in my life done that but I know my limits and I had to!  (Can't tell you how freeing it is to depend on everyone else.)

As I take things slowly today, I'm reflecting on the sweetness of our family devo this am in Jesus Calling for kids.  Adrain read, "When you go through the activities of your day side-by-side with Me, My Life becomes woven together with yours.  This means you and I are so closely connected that My own Life flows into you- and through you into the world around you.  And that is the real secret of having a joy-filled life- even on ordinary days."  

We read that twice. 

As I sat down the put together this little post, I was reflecting on that joy filled life statement.  I always forget that it's in the ordinary moments, so I decided to add some of the random ordinary photos from our ordinary days, that I took this week.

(I've been snapping one photo a day this week, for a new 365 project, and I think from now on I will just tuck each of them into what I'm posting on, rather than doing a monthly 365 post like I did a couple of years ago. FYI.)   

After we read that and finished breakfast I snapped this shot for today's picture.  My man loves me so well.  A friend of ours took his own life over the weekend and our hearts grieved the loss and prayed for his wife and children, left behind with the pieces.  Sometimes the darkness of life and tragedy out there doesn't make sense... and it's everywhere so we must hold fast to the peace that God gives us for just today.  We won't know the reasons for everything until we meet God face to face.  I am so grateful we can trust Him with the whole story and so grateful that even in the midst of sadness we can choose joy. 
Speaking of joy. These macaroons Oh my yes.  (I am perfecting the art of willpower as I speak.)  I am serving these at our Seder dinner, for dessert and found the recipe here
This was from Friday.  I got to babysit my niece all morning as her mama was in surgery and found it pure joy to be with her little self and listen to her stories and heart.  (Who says you can't bond with a four year old?  I actually told Adrain that night I can't wait to be a grandmother because if I love my nieces this much how much more will I love my grand babies someday?!)  (In a very long... long... time.) I had to drag out the camera for a few minutes of course!  (In the past, "Anne" and "Hank" (the dolls she is holding) have had a strictly professional relationship, Anne being the red-haired veterinarian and Hank being the cowboy.) (Yes my daughter named her Anne after Anne of Green Gables.)  (I think... things have progressed...because they are quite obviously kissing, as you can see here!)

I'll be back later this week to share our Seder dinner table because it will be rather simple and sweet.  And if you're looking for something to do with your kiddos, we have loved this resurrection cookie recipe for years!!  It can be found here!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Real life rest.

My sweet peeps and I just returned from a few days on the Olympic Peninsula. It was restful in so many ways.... but with real life moments that made me feel like a nap was a good idea by the time we walked in the front door of home.  I bet you get what I mean if you've ever been anywhere in a car with two kids for more than an hour, right?  We made some awesome memories at a game farm where you get to feed wild animals from the comfort (and safety?) of your own vehicle. (I rolled my window up when we got to the huge bison and said, "nothankyou" to the experience at that point... a little too close for comfort- though they really seemed to like my husband.)

We tromped around a few beaches, had epic foosball tournaments, enjoyed the great outdoors, had a little fondue party on a rainy day, and had a few good laughs. My son photographed humming birds to his heart's content.  We ended on a great note when we stumbled upon the cutest little town ever.  A historic settlement, Port Gamble, abounding in history and fun finds, not to mention darling shops.  I was in Sasha heaven.  (We fed the kids milkshakes so they were also in heaven.)  (Of course, we also had major meltdowns that derailed entire days, sickness that effected the energy level, and some hard challenges... but you know what I'm coming to realize? That's just real life and I'm choosing to focus on loving that we got to sneak away to a fairly inexpensive place and "camp.)  

(I consider it camping when I have to pack my own food, wash my own dishes, make my own bed and there is no room service.  I was just happy I wasn't in a tent. Ha!)

Okay so here is our vacation... 

 I was so sick at this point, we'd missed our first ferry so Adrain took the kids and toured Fort Casey while I slept in car, in the ferry line.

 The Olympic game farm.  A do not miss experience...These yaks were so smelly and dopey looking.

 Lake Crescent. 
 Hip shot on a little forest hike.
 My son stood under this bird feeder for hours shooting photos of these little guys. 
 Ignore my sloppily made bed- just wanted to show the huge window that we slept under, and the stars on the first night were incredible.
 La Push.

 Rialto Beach- we made our kids get driftwood and then had a little campfire.

 Joe made a hideout.
 Ava was loving the foamy surf.
 They didn't want to take a group shot.  Whatever.

 Someone was totally over being photographed.  However, that's never stopped me.

 Port Gamble, before we hit the afternoon ferry.  I loved this house and the history of it.  The plaque said that they had it built to face the sea because the husband was a sea captain and they wanted it to serve as a welcome when he returned home- and to welcome other weary travelers!  Loved that.
 My son... with is nose to the grindstone.  Yeah, bet that's the first time anyone's ever taken this photo. Ha!

 Ferry ride... headed back home. 
 Passing ferries.

It was nice to go... and as always nice to come back home.

And before I go...Just wanted to let you know that I'm running a sale for 20% off anything in my shop for the next week if you use the coupon code "SPRINGSALE" when you check out!  Click here to shop.